Description

The Taming of the Shrew was staged in 2007 by the all-male company, Propeller, at the Old Vic Theatre in London. These photographs show the muscular brutality of the scene where Katherina, played by Simon Scardifield, was thrown around the stage by Petruchio, played by Dugald Bruce-Lockhart.

Is The Taming of the Shrew sexist?

In an interview, the director Edward Hall was asked if his company had a particularly all-male take on the play, which is often seen as sexist. Hall said:

I don’t have a take on The Taming of the Shrew and I don’t think it’s a sexist play. That’s rubbish. The play is a very sophisticated comedy which is an ironic comment on how men treat women in a marriage or relationship situation.

Some reviewers thought this irony was highlighted by Hall’s emphasis on the Induction, which presents the central drama as a play performed for Christopher Sly the tinker. Rather than celebrating Kate’s submission in a sexist way, the drama could be seen as nothing more than Sly’s wife-taming fantasy.

But in his review for The Guardian, Michael Billington disagreed:

By stressing the induction, Hall presents the whole play as the dream of a drunken tinker in which Christopher Sly transmogrifies into Petruchio; but this seems a slight cop-out, as if to explain the play's psychological cruelty. And when you see Petruchio taming a male Kate, the play loses much of its erotic charge: there should be both sexiness and danger in the central relationship, but Simon Scardifield's hairy-chested Kate rarely gets much beyond sullen resentment.

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